Women's Soccer News: West Coast Wildkatz Aren't Disappointed with Progress in WPSL
The West Coast Wildkatz fell one goal short of the Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL) playoffs, missing out on the title in the tightest conference in the league when they managed only a 3-3 draw in their regular-season finale Sunday night against Bay Area Breeze.
Think they're unhappy? No way.
“I have very little disappointment,” said Wildkatz coach Troy Dayak, a former San Jose Earthquakes defender who last year founded West Coast Soccer Club in his native Livermore, east of San Francisco and Oakland. “Just extreme pride in the way the girls performed. It was an honor to coach them this year. Every single game the girls came to perform. They showed the passion, desire, commitment -- they showed it every time they stepped on the field. They were an absolute joy.”
It was a tremendous season for the Wildkatz (4-1-5), who finished just one point behind Pacific North Conference champion California Storm (5-2-3) and runner-up North Bay FC Wave (5-2-3) in a five-team race that came down to the final minute of the campaign.
The Wildkatz rallied from two two-goal deficits in their finale, getting goals from Kristin Andrighetto in the 88th and Anessa Patton in the 90th, her second of the match, for a 3-3 draw with defending Pacific North champion Bay Area Breeze. One more goal, or one not conceded, and West Coast would be headed to San Diego for this weekend's Western Regional final four.
No other team went through the Pacific North with just one defeat. The Wildkatz lost only one season series, to the Sacramento-based Storm, who face Big Sky North champion Salt Lake United at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night, July 21, at Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego. The San Diego SeaLions and Issaquah Soccer Club face off in the 5:00 p.m. semifinal opener. The winners will meet Sunday at 4:00 p.m. for a spot in the July 28-29 national final four, the climax to the season in the WPSL, a national league with more than 70 clubs.
There was a definite advance from last year, when West Coast went 4-3-2 and finished fourth in the conference, 11 points off the lead and seven points out of a playoff berth.
“I have a philosophy; it starts with the philosophy of the club and matriculates to the coaching staff and players,” Dayak said. “I honestly believe our players believe in what we're doing at West Coast Soccer, believe in the style we play and believe in each other.”
It paid off with a strong run: The Wildkatz were unbeaten in their last eight games, and they scored three goals in four of their final five.
They were led by a quartet of former college stars: Santa Clara forward Patton and midfielder Kendra Perry, San Diego State midfielder Michaela DeJesus and California midfielder Emily Shibata. Their experience and leadership was crucial for a young team loaded with talent from West Coast Soccer Club, including seven from the U.S. Club Soccer U-15 national championship team last year: forward Brooke Rittman, defenders Grace Cabri, Regan Smithers and Rachel Leonard, and Amber Lennier and Mireya Magana, and versatile Adaurie Dayak, the coach's daughter.
Smithers just received a scholarship to NCAA quarterfinalist Long Beach State, Leonard is headed to Sacramento State, and Cabri has committed to Creighton. All are heading into their senior years of high school.
“I'm excited for the future, for this franchise and the team,” Dayak said. “Every single player, I think they're disappointed [not to advance], but they enjoyed playing, and they all want to come back.”
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